The University of Arizona

Levels of Illicit Drug Use and Factors Contributing to Use
Levels of Use:
Illicit Drug Use

Criminal justice systems generally consider illicit drug use to be criminal activity. These systems typically have little incentive to distinguish among types of users based on history or level of use. Moreover, if a person has used, transported, or sold an illicit drug, he/she has broken the law, and that is generally the bottom line. This lack of distinction among users may be part of the reason some states have passed laws directing drug-related arrestees to treatment rather than jail—the idea being in part that treatment centers will tailor services to meet the needs of the arrestees. This lack of distinction may also help explain the emergence of “drug courts,” where judges often try to respond to the needs of individual users facing the court (Note: only a small percentage of persons arrested for illicit drugs go to such courts).[1]  



  • (1) American Psychiatric Association. Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Substance Use Disorders. Arlington, VA: APA; 2007 Apr. Report No.: 164.